Dunedin’s newest MP and the hot potato

Or the tale of Cr Walls’ surprise.

### ODT Online Tue, 28 Sep 2010
Calvert sparks row with Walls
By David Loughrey
Only days into her tenure as Act’s latest MP, Hilary Calvert has become embroiled in a spat with a Dunedin city councillor over her criticism of the city council. Cr Richard Walls yesterday took a swipe at Ms Calvert, describing as unprecedented her comments criticising the Dunedin City Council’s support for the Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Read more

****

The interview:

### ODT Online Sat, 25 Sep 2010
Calvert called upon to Act
By Mark Price
The seat in Parliament left vacant this week by the resignation of Act New Zealand MP David Garrett will be filled by Dunedin Act list MP Hilary Calvert. Ms Calvert is a mother of three, a qualified but non-practising lawyer and the landlord of, among other things, one of Dunedin’s massage parlours. She thinks, but is not certain, that she stood for Parliament for the first time in 2002, she believes she has no criminal convictions but will be checking with police just to be sure and she owns quite a chunk of Oturehua. Mark Price spoke to her during the week.
Read more

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

88 Comments

Filed under Economics, People, Politics, Stadiums

88 responses to “Dunedin’s newest MP and the hot potato

  1. Richard

    A hot potato indeed! My full statement to Council made in my capacity as Chair, Finance and Strategy, may be read at: http://www.richardwallsnz.com.

  2. Deep breaths Richard – these idiots are within 18months of having their deceitful arrogant ideological butts kicks into political oblivion.

    Huge champion of MMP but the threshold has been proven to be too low, allowing a party with about 1% of the general public support to throw un-proportional weight around the halls of the Beehive.

  3. Richard

    Yes, I agree. I think it was Keith Holyoake who always advised new MP’s “to breath through your noses for the first six months”. That does not give Hilary much time to achieve anything!

    I have no problem with Hilary’s opinions, just with her “own facts”. And, for the sake of the record and, in particular, the staff who manage our finances, those “own facts” needed to be put right.

    Cheers!

    • Elizabeth

      I’m guessing Hilary isn’t alone in the business world thinking DCC is on the road to ruin, taking the citizens with it. Don’t have to be an Act Party member to think that. Roll on 9 October.

      I also suspect the boys on Council have caused staff to take paths they wouldn’t ordinarily take in being stewards of DCC monies.

      We get to read that little phrase “own facts” quite a lot. Above are my best “suppositions”.

  4. David

    Richard – city debt is close to and even over the city’s own imposed maximum limits in the next few years.

    Then in your statement you ask the bizarre question of why is our debt is so low.

    I would think a lot more Dunedin citizens agree with Hilary’s facts than yours.

  5. Peter

    It’s kind of funny Richard accusing people of not doing their homework. He, along with his fellow councillors, didn’t have the wit to ask for the consultants’ reports (appendices) to the CST Feasibility Report 2007. Bev, he might remember, had to push to get these reports out in the public. Same again with the ‘blacked out’ parts of these reports. This is after they had paid for the information, but clearly Richard and his mates inside and outside of council weren’t interested because they had already made a decision to build the new stadium.

  6. JimmyJones

    Richard, you don’t seem to be aware of the contents of the 2009 S&P credit report. Your press release has the wrong release date (December 2009), whereas it was actually released in November 2009. December 2009 was the date of the DCC press release about the credit report. Also the quote you picked was from the DCC press release. Please tell us that you have read the full report; I would much prefer to think that your recent comments about DCC debt were due to electioneering, and not because you were completely ignorant of the serious warnings from Standard & Poors.

  7. Can we all remember that the operative words as used by anti-stadium folk, without possibly realising it is, “the next few years”.

    The debt isn’t forever.

    Just like our incredibly tight (by choice) mortgage isn’t forever.

    • Elizabeth

      ODT editor responds to a letter from Dennis Dorney of Calton Hill in today’s newspaper (page 10):

      “Dunedin City Council debt is budgeted to peak at close to $350 million in the current financial year. As the city has about 120,000 residents, including children, that equates to a debt-per-head figure of about $2000. -Ed”

      Naturally… we shouldn’t wait for an earthquake like Canterbury’s to focus our minds on the lack of sustainability attaching to the current political regime at Dunedin City Council.

  8. JimmyJones

    Yes I agree Elizabeth, but I would use the term “financial competence” instead of sustainability. To me sustainability is like cloth nappies, worm farms and nature worship – kindof the opposite I would say.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Jimmy
      Accept what you say if only alluding to financial competence – was thinking of finance as well as wider matters by virtue of my current (and enduring) planning, built environment and economic development concerns.

      So sustainability is the right word, it’s not an evil or diminuitive word.
      Hey.
      Cloth nappies were what I was raised with (no disposables around then); I lived, progressed and even made some money.
      Worm farms, brilliant. A farmer and a gardener – although a wee bit disappointed we don’t have more green roofs in Dunedin.
      Nature worship seems way healthier for the brain than following Dog and Disciples, at DCC.

  9. JimmyJones

    I like my worms in the ground. Cloth nappies work fine but I hate ratepayers having to pay for other people’s. The words Sustainability and Community seem to get splattered everywhere, often without adding any real meaning. Being a disciple could be stressful?

  10. Richard

    Well David, the limit you refer to was self-imposed. If we had wanted to be ‘sneaky’, we could have just changed it to 10%. That would bring us into line with some – or most – of our peers.

    Debt is a discipline.

  11. Russell Garbutt

    Richard – it seems like someone has changed a few keys around on your keyboard.

    That aside, your continued attitude of always being right is wearing thin.

    I was intrigued to see that you have adopted the role of being the defender of the old boys network within the DCC with Mayor Chin nowhere to be seen, and once again Paul Hudson firmly ensconced on the fence.

    Hilary Calvert is quite right of course. You, and anyone else, cannot supply a business case for the stadium’s existence. The costs and debt are immense and are beyond this City’s affordable wishes, and more importantly, the ongoing costs are unsustainable.

    In your much vaulted position as Chair of everything that is important, you are finally revealed as one of the less than 20 Old Boys who have put this City into a position where real growth cannot be pursued. Time for you to go to pasture Richard.

    • Elizabeth

      How soon before we decimate ACT and all who sail on her?
      How a particular fortune was amassed, inherited, and who acted as ‘debt collector’ bears examination (Dunedin).

      Ms Calvert said she almost did not enter Parliament because of the “whole pecuniary interest thing”.

      ### ODT Online Sat, 28 May 2011
      MP’s eyes used to promote Dunedin massage parlour
      By Hamish McNeilly
      The eyes decorating the top level of an inner-city Dunedin massage parlour belong to the building’s owner – Act New Zealand MP Hilary Calvert. The Dunedin-based list MP caused a stir when she entered Parliament late last year, after admitting she owned the Queens Gardens building, which houses the massage parlour La Maison.
      Read more

  12. Phil

    Paul, just following up on your thoughts regarding MMP and the issues created by minor parties, I’ve been following the the fallout from the recent general elections in Sweden with some interest. While not strictly MMP as we know it, Sweden does use a system of proportional representation for both local and central government.

    In the elections held a couple of weeks back, there was no clear winning party, and negotiations are on-going. However, a small extreme right wing fascist party gained enough votes for several seats in parliament, and enough votes to allow for them to form a majority coalition government with either of the 2 main parties.

    The absolute outrage throughout the country of this possibility has actually served to unite the 2 main parties, with both now agreeing to work together in order to form a stable government and to deny this rather frightening small party any power. It’s quite a unique position, creating an almost wartime political unity. In a slightly bizarre way, this fascist party may have done Sweden a huge favour.

    Hopefully NZ will never have to deal with anything like that. Destiny is probably the closest we have today. But, should that day ever come, one would hope that our politicians would follow the Swedish approach and put what is right ahead of what is politically advantageous.

  13. JimmyJones

    Richard, we like discipline when it comes to DCC debt. It’s a shame that we have had to rely on external discipline from the S&P credit analysts, instead of common sense and self discipline from our councillors.

    Do you remember during the last Annual Plan discussions how some councillors were quite puzzled about how the Standard & Poors “predictions” of cutbacks/deferments of expected capital expenditure had come true exactly as they said? The fact is, the prediction was a fairly unsubtle warning of a credit downgrade if the cutbacks didn’t happen. How was it that those councillors didn’t know what was going on. Why did council staff not keep councillors informed?

    • Elizabeth

      Everytime someone types the r-word, I’m guessing another vote goes that way. You’re inadvertently, by protesting and debating, raising a profile. Hilary couldn’t have come along at a better time for some people.

      Don’t play up to the visibility, folks – people with a ‘presence’ catch votes.

      Paradoxically, as a colleague pointed out today, Cr ts has said nothing lately yet has an interesting candidate statement in one publication – if you don’t attend council meetings to know the behaviour there, you might think that’s a good candidate.

      Exercise your “blanks” on the voting form.

  14. Richard

    As advisors to elected members, council staff keep us well informed.

    That includes briefing us on all relevant external factors including ratings by Standard & Poors.

    I remind you S&P noted in its assessment of 10 December 2009, that “Council’s credit quality is underpinned by its track record of strong management and fiscal discipline”.

    That is a fact.

    You seem to have missed the announcement by S&P on 20.9.10 (reported in the ODT on Friday last) revising Council’s credit rating from AA- Outlook “Stable” to AA- Outlook “Positive”, and a likely a one-notch upgrade.

    Hardly a vote of no confidence in the City’s financial outlook.

  15. Phil

    On the positive side of the election campaign, I saw from Saturday’s newpaper that now’s the time to whip a couple of panicstriken Councillors into action. Any potholes you want filled in, any noise complaints you have, any dampness in your pensioner flat, you’ve got a couple of weeks left to make the most out of them. I suspect that one or 2 of them might even be happy to fold your smalls about now. I need some stuff taken to the dump, I wonder if either Neil or Bill have a trailer ?

  16. Russell Garbutt

    Noticed the picture – Collins in a high visibilty vest. Wonder why that was? Still I guess that it makes a difference to toddling along to a few OAP institutions for a pensioner lunch….

  17. Russell Garbutt

    Hi Elizabeth – I’m also picking every time that someone mentions anything connected with the R word, someone is reminded about that person’s characteristics.

    I used a taxi tonight and often the drivers are an interesting indicator as to what people are thinking – they run across a pretty broad cross-section of our community in the course of their working day.

    This one was scathing about a group of people that he saw were arrogant and fixated with no connection to the community. The more that those people are exposed, the better in his view. Interestingly, the most talked about by him was a Councillor who never campaigns and the impression gained was that the least people hear about him, the more chance of being re-elected.

    A chocolate fish to the correct guess as to who the driver was talking about…

  18. JimmyJones

    Richard, I did see the ODT article “DCC rating rise likely” (http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/127898/dcc-rating-rise-likely) but disregarded it because the source wasn’t given and it had been spin-doctored.

    More importantly, it doesn’t say that there has been any revision as you claim above, and in your press release. Where did you get this idea from? It seems like the S&P credit assessment won’t be completed for another few months yet. Neither you nor the ODT should try and guess what the new rating will be. If the positive country specific influence is real then this needs to be balanced against the DCC specific negative comments – it says: “(we expect) that Dunedin City will maintain its strong financial position, while the increasing debt burden ensures there is little upside to Dunedin’s rating.” and “Further downside pressures include an increasing reliance on CCTO revenue or one of Dunedin City’s CCTOs venturing into riskier activities.”. As well as that, there is the warning that the rating will come under pressure if the net debt-to-operating revenue ratio is allowed to remain above 130% (DCC forecast = 140%). By the way a CCTO “venturing into riskier activity” might include DVL and its associated DCC held debt racking up a $20 million per year loss. Please tell me if you have a more up-to-date forecast.

    {Correction: DVL is a Council-Controlled Organisation. -Eds}

  19. Richard

    JJ:

    “MELBOURNE (Standard & Poor’s) Sept. 21, 2010–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that its credit ratings on six New Zealand local governments were likely to be affected by Standard & Poor’s revised methodology and assumptions for rating international local and regional government entities (see “Methodology For Rating International Local And Regional Governments,” published to RatingsDirect on Sept. 20, 2010).

    The ratings on Auckland City Council (AA-/A-1+), Dunedin City Council (AA-/A-1+), Greater Wellington Regional Council (AA-/A-1+), Hutt City Council (AA/A-1+), and Waitakere City Council (AA-/A-1+) were placed on CreditWatch with positive implications. The application of the revised criteria is likely to lead to a one-notch upgrade for these entities.”

    The Council will consider and release at meetings next Monday its audited Annual Report for the year ended 30 June 2010.

    The DCHL Group is also due to issue its audited Annual Report shortly.

    DVL and DVML are not CCTO’s but CCO’s, Council-Controlled organisations.

  20. David

    Richard – surely you are misleading us over the Standard & Poor’s upgrade for Dunedin.

    Are you trying to tell us we have been upgraded because our financial position has improved ?

    Or did we get an upgrade only because S&P have changed the way they do their rating.

  21. JimmyJones

    Richard, yes I see that S&P are saying that the DCC is likely get a one-notch upgrade, which is good, but my point is that you are premature in saying that an upgrade has occurred; you should wait until it happens (if it happens). Only a few months to wait.

    I think that S&Ps comment probably applies to both CCOs and CCTOs. I am looking forward to seeing the annual reports including DVL and DVML.

  22. Richard

    Yes, S&P do look at the COUNCIL Group as a whole.

    As for the DCC Credit Rating it HAS changed from AA- Outlook “Stable” to AA- Outlook “POSITIVE”. The further ‘notch upwards’ would, of course, be additional to that.

  23. David

    Richard – I followed the links you provided and came to an S&P statment that said the re-rating was due to revised methodology.

    By omission, you are misleading people to think it is because of financial performance.

    I notice Peter Chin is also deceiving people in exactly the same way in his advertisements.

  24. JimmyJones

    Richard, I think you have wrongly interpreted the S&P press release. It says (slightly adjusted for pertinence) –

    The rating on Dunedin City Council
    (AA-/A-1+) was placed on CreditWatch
    with positive implications. The application of the revised criteria is likely to lead to a one-notch upgrade for these entities.

    The current credit rating, (AA-/A-1+) is unchanged from the 2009 review. The phrase “CreditWatch with positive implications” is S&P’s way of saying that at the next review they will probably upgrade the rating. So when you say “The further ‘notch upwards’ would, of course, be additional to that [positive creditwatch]” you are really stretching things; positive creditwatch and “likely to lead to a one-notch upgrade”, are two ways of saying exactly the same thing.

    And, unless you consider that the creditwatch status is part of the credit rating, then you are wrong in claiming that “our just revised credit rating” has increased. It looks like desperate stuff to me. Telecom, AIG etc all provide a credit rating as just the rating without any creditwatch status.

    Apart from the AA-/A-1+ rating the report makes it clear that the DCC’s debt is maxed-out and they overtly threatened a downgrade if you did not reduce the debt profile. And the funny thing is that you have reduced the debt profile, but not all councillors knew why they were voting for cuts and deferments. My question is why were some councillors unaware of the credit warning. If you say that councillors were given the information, how was that done?

  25. Calvin Oaten

    Richard laying great store on an uptick from Standard & Poors rating agency says it all. He obviously is not aware of the absolutely appalling performances of the great rating houses in the recent ‘Sub Prime’ disasters. Without exception, most of the junk instruments sunk flying the excellent rating standards given by those same agencies. They are at present treated as hucksters peddling junk ratings which dopey people running bankrupt financial operations cling to like sinking rafts. State and metropolitan communities throughout the United States have been duped and poisoned by these agencies, as indeed have been retirement funds and all manner of financial instruments. The same here in NZ. Just look at how many finance houses have, and are, still going down due to bad investment decisions. How many of those decisions were influenced by the rating agencies? We will never know. But if this city is led by people like Richard, who wouldn’t know a AA/A+ if he stumbled over it. This, the man who won’t answer the real questions, but obfuscates over and over again and fulminates about ‘real facts’ but never produces them. Time expired, meter jammed.

  26. Peter

    Richard is also keen on ‘intergenerational debt’- a fanciful notion where this generation spends up with debt ‘for the benefit of the next generation(s)’. How that ‘benefits’ them, I don’t know. This argument more like justifies our own moral and financial degeneracy – and to heck with the future. I’m pleased our forefathers weren’t as degenerate and left us with solid foundations.
    I would have thought Richard had more an eye on the history books of local government here in Dunedin upon which he and his fellow councillors will be judged. Maybe he doesn’t really care anymore. What a legacy he has left for his own children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, let alone ours.

    {More painfully, Cr Walls has called it “intergenerational equity” – whereas some other local authorities have dropped this term, recognising it as a hypocritical slight to the payers and inheritors. -Eds}

  27. Russell Garbutt

    Speaking of time expired, I see in this morning’s ODT a very interesting advertisement for Peter Chin as well as a piece by Clarke Isaacs reporting on an interview conducted by National Radio between Geoff Robinson and Mayor Chin.

    The Isaacs piece is well worth reading as it again demonstrates clearly Chin’s inability to enunciate any clear or rational thoughts on virtually any matter of importance. People will probably remember the interview with Holmes where Chin was trying to explain how the Council came to vote to proceed – it was just gobbledegook.

    Reading both the ad and the piece, what Chin and his allied cabal within Council fail to say is that the ratepayers of this City were never asking for a new rugby stadium. Chin rambles on about people using the Annual Plan process to ask for things to be provided and they have to weigh these requests up and decide which ones get in and which ones get turned down.

    I’d love for Chin, Walls, Hudson and co to point out exactly when there was widespread community desire for a new rugby stadium. I know they can’t because it didn’t happen. It happened because the OB network decided it was going to happen.

    The “less than 20” that decided that this project would proceed are tarred with the same brush that Walls uses all the time – “I know the real facts, I know what you want, I have the power to make you pay for what I want”.

    But the crowing pile of rubbish to me was Chin’s ad where he tells us of a “fiction” that the City is spending beyond its means. That, Mayor Chin, is not a fiction, and you and your mates have caused it to happen. Time for you to go, and time for your mates to go as well.

  28. Richard

    Two principles underline borrowing.

    First, you do not borrow what you cannot repay.

    Second, you borrow for new assets that will be used, enjoyed and paid for by this as well as future generations.

    That is the principle of intergenerational equity. I did not ‘invent it’, it is one that has been accepted and used in local government for a long time.

    The debt repayments are provided for – as they have to be – in Council’s forward budgets.

    It is easy to ignore, while bandying figures around, that Council has about $2.7 billion in assets with about half of that in water and wastewater infrastructure.

    Many of these will serve the city for 30, 50 or even, in some cases, 100 years. It is appropriate that the cost of them and depreciation is spread across the generations of users and not loaded on to the current generation.

    I remind you – Messers Garbutt and Oaten, in particular – that the High Court and Court of Appeal considered the questions of affordability of the stadium in the context of the Council’s ability to pay for it and statements made in our plans amongst other matters.

    And found in Council’s favour.

    As for ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, I also remind you that they noted in their last assessment (December 2009), that “Council’s credit quality is underpinned by its track record of strong management and fiscal discipline”.

    And nothing has changed despite Mr Oaten’s several attempts (repeated above) to blacken the reputations of those who manage council’s finances.

    {The discussion about the use of “equity” or “debt” arose earlier at What if?. What if? cited back then other councils that have OPENLY decided to ride with “intergenerational debt” as their preferred term on politico-ethical grounds. What if? also provided definitions of these interchangeable terms. -Eds}

    • Elizabeth

      I’m undecided. Should I intonate “Boo Hiss” here, or “Rhubarb cheese rhubarb cheese” ?

      Nah, sorry. Make that BS. This particular debate on Council finances, including finances for the stadium, has nothing to do with blackening the reputations of DCC staff, which Richard strangely keeps coming back to, on occasion, at his own whim.

      All other contributors to this debate, besides Richard, are throwing it squarely at the Councillor/Chair of Finance and Strategy Committee – and the prostadia Councillors.

      Own bubble is own facts, as Richard owns.

      • Elizabeth

        Love Richard’s line: “you do not borrow what you cannot repay”.

        How many times do we have to repeat this our collective fact:

        There was no mandate from Dunedin residents and ratepayers for the DCC’s stadium spend, nor for the resulting Council debt levels brought upon residents and ratepayers to meet/pay for it intergenerationally, both directly and indirectly.

        Succinctly: Richard, on your watch as a councillor YOU have riddled the Council and saddled the citizens with unmanageable debt. Your deed is done.

        ****

        Time to remove prostadia Councillors at DCC.

  29. Russell Garbutt

    I note that Richard ignores the invitations to either clarify or justify his claims regarding S&P ratings in Jimmy Jones and David’s postings, and also ignores my request to show where the ratepayers of this City were demanding a new rugby stadium. The lack of a response is a very clear indication that he hasn’t got one.

    No doubt that if we didn’t have the direct debt to the DCC, the direct debt incurred by the ORC, the indirect debt incurred by DCHL at the DCC behest, and the multitudinous other indirect loss of income incurred by the “mates” at Delta, we would have had a thriving City. Also no doubt in my mind that the level of debt we are carrying in its entirety is beyond our means. But, as Richard and his mates say, who gives a damn – put it on the credit card, it’s not me that’s paying!

  30. David

    Richard says “First, you do not borrow what you cannot repay”

    Surely you mean “do not borrow what ratepayers cannot be forced to repay”.

  31. Richard

    Okay then Elizabeth, then answer this:

    We have spent $250 million in water and wastewater upgrades with another $67 million to come).

    We have also provided for the redevelopment of the Settlers’ Museum, Regent Theatre, Town Hall and Dunedin Centre and, yes, the building of a new stadium. (At this point Calvin blows a fuse).

    Opinions vary, of course, on these projects. That is as it should be.

    Someone who has a less jaundiced eye might well ask, “given all that, why is our borrowing so low”?

    And why we have one of the lowest residential rates in the country for a major city @$1,458 (excluding GST) for the average property with a rating valuation of $291,000.

    I was thinking of awarding a chocolate fish for the best answer. Thinking!

    • Elizabeth

      All I hope Richard, is that Dunedin City Council isn’t tripped up by a large earthquake anytime soon.

      Of course, my other hope is a freshly ethical, non slant bunch of councillors leading out from 10 October. I don’t expect perfection, I do expect brains, honesty, integrity and practical determination – councillors not open to unsafe old boy network manipulations, from the likes of the CST and the various board directors that have undue influence in this fair city. Trouble is, one set of local body elections won’t cut out all the rot –

      Nothing will convince a large number of local people that DCC’s providing ORFU and the OB network a screwy show pony box on the banks of Leith, for rugby, is anything other than a disgusting indulgence, the size of a civic insult. There has been and is no decency to the process; a perfect example of dangerous capture by the highly risky manipulative few who consider themselves city leaders.

      We can be forgiven for seeing little prudence, honesty, leadership or ethics attaching to any of it.

  32. Russell Garbutt

    Richard – spending $250m on water is core business. Spending $350m on a new rugby stadium is insanity.

  33. ro

    Richard: you say “that the High Court and Court of Appeal considered the questions of affordability of the stadium in the context of the Council’s ability to pay for it and statements made in our plans amongst other matters…
    “And found in Council’s favour.”

    First, I understand that the Environment Court was asked (by the ratepayers & householders) to look at this aspect and opined that it could not; that the High Court opined that he was flummoxed by the argument of both sides and chose to go with the DCC’s argument; and that the Court of Appeal looked not at the ability to pay but whether the increase in the price was anticipated in the annual plan or not.

    This was actually the issue before the High Court but this judge was either misled or confused (the words roughly of the CoA) into not really knowing what he was to decide on. The Court of Appeal only opined that the difference in price between the proposal as committed to in the annual plan and the actual was not significant. No question was asked, argued or proved about the city’s ability to squeeze its assets to pay for it or not.

    “Own facts”? Vile put down and not at all helpful to your defence.

  34. Russell Garbutt

    Ro, this was my recollection of the facts regarding this process as well. My understanding was that the downward cost of borrowing was also a major factor in the decision. Despite the DCC errors, they were offset by something that the DCC had no control over.

    But as usual, don’t let facts get in the way of “Richard’s facts”.

  35. David

    Spending the same on a second stadium for use as you do on core activities is more than a matter of differing opinions.

    It’s little more than forced theft from ratepayers to benefit a bankrupt rugby union.

  36. Russell Garbutt

    David, you have identified a real major problem with how our society operates. Taxes take into account the ability of the taxed to pay. Broadly speaking, the more you earn, the more you pay.

    Rates ignore this basic concept.

    The Dunedin City Council, and in particular the profligate spendthrifts of Walls, Hudson, Chin and co have simply said to the community – this is the level of debt we are taking on to pay for the things that our mates want, and what’s more we are passing procedural motions to cover this debt by allowing us to raise rates.

    It is legalised robbery and theft.

    Solution – elect some people who recognise that this community cannot afford profligacy and at best, can only afford rate rises equal to, or below inflation.

  37. Calvin Oaten

    Richard, you say a principle underlining borrowing is; ‘first you do not borrow what you cannot repay’. True.

    But beyond that comes the question of how you repay. If there is a statutory right to strike rates then the principle is met. If you have a group of trading companies from which you can extort any amount of money then the principle is met.

    From this it is abundantly clear that your principles have no concern at all for the effect of the borrowing, only as long as it can be repaid.

    By extension, nothing is therefore impossible. A 100% $200 million debt funded stadium with no possible business plan running surpluses, is not a problem. Simply, as your borrowing principles are being met then it must be feasible.

    How I wish life were as simple, Richard.

    {This comment has been moderated. -Eds}

  38. Russell Garbutt

    Calvin, I thought Richard was a fan of the red wine – that is what he has suggested in the past the rest of us pursue.

    {Moderated. This comment refers to Cr Walls’ comments here and elsewhere on the subject of wine, mostly in lighthearted rejoinder. -Eds}

  39. Richard

    Mr Garbutt and Mr Oaten – I do not know you and do not want to if that is the level of debate you engage in.

    I find your comments about my husband offensive.

    June Walls

  40. ro

    I’m sorry, June, if I were amongst those who offended you. At least Richard does attempt to defend the actions of the council of which he is just one member; where are the others? What defence have Crs Bezett, Acklin, Noone, Collins, Guest, Weatherall (who shares responsibility for the Princes St buildings decision with Cr Walls), Hudson, Brown, and the mayor, Mr Chin, ever mounted on these pages?

  41. Richard

    Hi Ro

    Well, I only showed June, the comments by Garbutt and Oaten and they were the ones she took exception to.

    So no need for any apology from you.

    In regard to resource consent hearings, I simply remind everyone that Commissioners must make their decision on the evidence that is put before them.

    As for anything else, well Russell and Calvin when they cannot handle responses with which they do not agree, once again want to drag the debate into the sewer. Not for me.

    So, I won’t be back on ‘What If’. Cheers!

  42. Russell Garbutt

    Richard, as has been pointed out by the moderator of this site, has been the one to suggest to have another glass of red when the political arguments get heated, and my comment was in similar vein.

    In the meantime, the real questions are left unanswered.

  43. Calvin Oaten

    Oh No! Richard has tossed his toys out of the cot and gone again. And all because Russell and I made some oblique reference to single malt and wine.

    {Sorry Calvin, we have moderated here too. We realise Richard has mentioned single malt here and elsewhere in the past, but good form not to bring partners and families into the politics – even when they appear of their own free will, in protest about comments. -Eds}

  44. Phil

    We need you on here, Richard. In fact, we’d like to see a few more of your team here. You, Kate, and Fliss (apologies if I’ve missed any) offer a view on life in Dunedin which helps create a more complete picture. We have also seen a few issues that have been raised on this forum make it through into formal Council discussions. Which has been heartening to see, and illustrates the value of the site. Being able to have a reasoned debate separates this site from many others discussing the same issues. When the rubbish comments start flying, then we lose such an advantage.

    Personal attacks against you or any other person are not acceptable and, indeed, the have the effect of devaluing the content of the offending posters’ comments. Not many of us here can say that we haven’t been guilty of such indiscretions, but that doesn’t in any way justify actions. I do hope that you will reconsider your decision, and I do hope that the rest of us realise how difficult it is to front up to this forum, knowing that you’ll more than likely be facing criticism. Yet do it anyway.

    • Elizabeth

      The frustration with blogs when they’re on a high is you/your ideas can easily be overlooked, shoved sideways, whatever, as people exercise their right of free speech, lines of inquiry – or simply pursue their passionate beliefs and interests. It can be fairly bruising in the typing.

      Greater Dunedin, and Fliss Butcher, each have their own blogs so really not sure if they have time or inclination to comment here, or whether it’s sage to try when things heat in the campaign period counting down.

      Words can sting or be stones. What would we say to each other face to face if in public. That’s a guide to online behaviour – the safety of our keyboards is not safe at all.

      As Paul sometimes says, we’re not Kiwiblog! That’s a punishing place where all things rip.

  45. Calvin Oaten

    Elizabeth, fair enough. But you have to admit Richard brings it upon himself. The last thing I would want for him or anyone else is to take anything I say as personal or serious. My cheek is constantly bulging with tongue. Only relaxes to chuckle. If I thought anyone else took themselves seriously I would be mortified. Like all things political, it’s a joke, and the idea of shifting world opinion on this site is ludicrous.

    • Elizabeth

      Aw. I dunno, Calvin – the latitude shifts quite a lot here, that seems… worldly.

      I commented to Richard fairly recently via email that anything I say is neither here nor there, in the scheme of things cutting up rough.

      Grew up in the household where arguments and questioning happened, a lot. And each day the sun shone again – and we were best buddies, again. A lot of trust and loyalty, we worked off our energy – and had much fun.

      However, we still need a new council for Dunedin.

      It’s not often the number of views at a thread on What if? exceed the number of views at the home page. Rare. It’s happened tonight.

  46. David

    Richard says “Commissioners must make their decision on the evidence that is put before them.”

    You mean like a 20m sq sign for the Ice Stadium is turned down as it is far too big – 12m sq larger than the 8m sq limit.

    But a 3000m sq (yes three thousand) sign is ok for Mr Dippie, as it’s only fractionally bigger than the exact same 8m sq limit.

    Not that Council are allowed to hear a consent for a project on their own land. Their own policy prohibits it.

    At least there was a full DCC inquiry into it – at least that’s what Mayor Chin told the public.

    Which is interesting because despite official requests the inquiry never came to light, and the DCC told the Ministry for the Environment that there never was any inquiry.

    On pushing further, the council came up with the dubious response that the whole inquiry and report was done on an entirely “verbal” basis – there were no emails, notes, memos, files etc. Not a single scrap of paper or electronic file.

    So I suppose the question has to be asked, did Mayor Chin lie to the public about there being a full DCC inquiry into the Mitre 10 resource consent fiasco?

    And if so, why?
    What was he hiding?

    • Elizabeth

      Who are the directors and shareholders of that company, is my first thought David. Then who hid the ‘inquiry’ or stopped it happening, as you say.

      Another thing (because it’s easy enough to get the leads in a small city), I quite like to look at the property holdings of the mayor and councillors from time to time, and that of their cohorts. It can be surprising, or perhaps the better word is “suggestive”. Followed closely by “persuasive”.

  47. Russell Garbutt

    Transparency is at the basis of any good governance, and I suggest that this quality is probably one of the least apparent in the current administration.

    The reason that people don’t like transparency is generally because people have something they want to remain hidden.

    Thankfully these days, a lot more people are digging out more facts about the activities of those that want things hidden, and the internet is able to ensure that revealed information is able to be disseminated.

    The old days of people refusing to answer questions or provide untruthful or misleading information aided by an unquestioning press is coming to an end.

  48. kate

    Calvin sorry I have yet to hear your chuckle or humour in any of your comments – I was being interviewed at radio turoa yesterday and it has a notice on the wall for its announcers. One of the comments was smile, listeners can hear it in your voice. Unfortunately I cannot read your smile in many things you write Calvin.

    Having said that I do think blogging is something one does with broad shoulders, and one should expect to be treated as one treats others on blogs. That can be said also of the world of politics.

    I agree with Phil that we want people to blog, but equally I think many and not just Calvin and Russell need to play the issue not the person and not create their own facts and that last point does not relate to only one person.

  49. Calvin Oaten

    Kate. perhaps the reason you cannot read my smile in many of the things I write is because there is so often nothing to smile about. Nevertheless, the smile is there, just at times cynical. I see in your last paragraph you may be imbued by Richard’s obsession about “own facts”. Please Kate, don’t fall for that heavily blinkered intolerance.

  50. Peter

    Kate. I know Calvin reasonably well and I can assure you he has a twinkle in his eye. I find he often has an apt and amusing turn of phrase that makes what he writes here readable. He is of that generation that calls ‘a spade, a spade’ and he is not blinkered by false niceness.

  51. Kiwifly

    Calvin is rude, bullying and overbearing. I can see why you like him then Peter…after all birds of a feather stick and all that kind of stuff.

  52. Calvin Oaten

    There’s that wretched insect again. Just hovers and hums.

  53. JimmyJones

    Richard and I debated on this page (September 28, 2010 at 8:47 pm etc) whether or not the DCC was warned by S&P to reduce their scheduled borrowing or else face a credit rating downgrade. Round two of this debate continued at the ODT DCC deeper in debt by $64m. There were other interesting debates in progress there also, until suddenly we got this:

    This thread is now closed – Editor
    Submitted by Online editor on Thu, 07/10/2010 – 8:14am.

    Closing a thread is quite rare at the ODT and I am not sure why it did so. I think this discussion should continue because if my claim is true, then it makes a mockery of those sitting councillors that claim that the debt is manageable and that they have great financial management skills etc. The actual credit report is available from the DCC.
    So in the interest of Free Speech, here are the ODT comments (earliest at the top):

    “We’re all happy”
    Submitted by JimmyJones on Tue, 05/10/2010 – 7:31pm.

    Like pigs in muck, our councillors are very content with the huge amount of renters and ratepayers money that they have committed to unjustifiable, loss-making projects. Jim Harland and Richard Walls claim that the $41 million less-than-budgeted debt somehow shows financial restraint. The truth is that the DCC scheduled borrowing, became so large that their credit rating agency threatened to downgrade their rating if they failed to scale-back their spending-spree (S&P, November 2009). There was no prudent financial management, no self-discipline; just a threat from Standard and Poor’s. I should say that there has been no real reduction in future spending on these capital projects, just a delay. This will probably satisfy S&P, but will not prevent the expected large increases in rates. Currently the DCC is unable to borrow any significant money, a lot of which will soon be needed for waste and water pipe renewals. As well as this, our council has been taking ratepayer’s money away from providing for the important pipe renewals. You can guess what it was spent on. The longer this water underfunding continues, the greater will be the eventual ratepayer burden. My guess is that the new council will also be financially incompetent.

    No threat
    Submitted by Richard Walls on Wed, 06/10/2010 – 11:53am.

    Sorry to spoil your ‘fun’, but there was ‘no threat’ from Standard & Poors. That is not the way such a company operates.
    I assume when you refer to “taking ratepayer’s money away from providing for important pipe renewals”, you are referring to depreciation.
    It is correct that Council is presently underfunding depreciation. There is absolutely no point in fully funding it if you cannot spend where intended.
    With the annual increase in asset valuation, that would only increase the cost on the current generation of users via rates.
    My expectation – and that of my colleagues – is for that to gradually change over the years as the work programmes are put in place through the Annual Plan process.

    Threatened Credit Rating Downgrade
    Submitted by JimmyJones on Wed, 06/10/2010 – 3:35pm. (Unpublished)

    Richard Walls says there was no threat, but the deferment of some new borrowing when setting the last Annual Plan wasn’t a surge of financial common sense, or a decision to finally listen to concerned ratepayers, it was a clear warning from Standard & Poors in their DCTL credit report (30/11/2009). S & P are polite to their customers and don’t use the word “threat”, but the warning is quite direct. They recognise the strong liquidity that comes with the legal power to set and collect rates. They, however, balance this against the increasing debt burden of the city and the risk of “one of Dunedin City’s CCTOs venturing into riskier activities”.

    They showed concern at the 2011 forecast level of the City’s net debt-to-operating revenue ratio which was 140%. They then tell us that the rating is likely to come “under pressure” if this ratio is allowed to remain above 130%.

    It should be clear that they believe that 140% is too much debt, and that unless it is reduced to 130% or lower, then they would consider a ratings downgrade. All of our current councillors are aware of the deferred projects and tell us that the DCC will not be able to borrow anything for a while, but none of them have bothered to tell the City’s renters and ratepayers the reason for this. We wouldn’t want to scare the voters.

    • Elizabeth

      JimmyJones – classic, yes I saw the thread at ODT Online put to a close.
      Perhaps to add, from yesterday’s ODT (7-10-10), you’ll have seen it I’m sure… the famous last words:

      (DCHL electioneering ad, page 8) “Fantastic returns for the city”

  54. JimmyJones

    Yes Elizabeth, I’m sure about the “returns”, but I know the election results will be interesting. It looks like the big-spenders are finally gone, but the replacements could be a lot worse. It’s a dangerous time for the City. Lets hope for the best.

  55. Calvin Oaten

    The public assassination of Hilary Calvert in the ODT is scurrilous, demeaning, mean spirited tabloid journalism of the worst sort. Why? Because Ms Calvert happens to own some property one of which is tenanted by a massage parlour. For goodness sake, if the aforementioned parlour is a commercial undertaking which pays its rent what has its activities to do with the building owner?
    So, Ms Calvert is an ACT MP. You don’t like that? Then vote them out next election. What on earth has happened to the giving of ‘a fair go’? The ODT by front paging this has demeaned itself and at the same time unjustly defamed an upright private citizen who has done nothing but put herself into a public position. Poor lady.

  56. Russell Garbutt

    What is going on with this thing between the ODT and Hilary Calvert? Is there some private war going on behind the scenes that no-one knows about?

    I certainly don’t mind it when convicted criminal fraudsters like Swann get some public exposure for his unwillingness to cough up the money he stole, but I don’t understand why it is news that Hilary Calvert’s eyes are used to decorate a building that she owns. I would have thought that there were a lot more serious news stories that could grace the front page of a newspaper. For starters, how about announcing that the ODT is willing to put a truly investigative journalist onto exposing the myth of public funding of the rugby stadium? How about using that space to expose what contributions Delta has been making to professional rugby for the last 10 years? How about doing some investigation into the activities of DCHL? How about a story that reveals the truth behind the Carisbrook purchase? Tons of real stories out there – why this one?

  57. Anonymous

    The ODT should stop dancing around the issue. We can all use Google and the Companies Web site and find out what White Clover Services imports and sells, for example.

    If there is an issue here that they want to uncover, then simply ask the simple question: “What is the extent of Ms Calvert’s involvement in the Dunedin sex industry?” In the old days, we knew exactly what was meant by having fine, upstanding Members, in the Parliamentary sense at least.

  58. Russell Garbutt

    Ah, so White Clover Services deals in “adult material”? And Hilary Calvert is the part owner of this company?

    Not sure where this is all leading, but it looks like a bit of tip of an iceberg? Immigrant women, adult material, massage parlours, fine upstanding members? A lot of exposure on TV1 news tonight.

    Hmmm – when will all be revealed? So to speak….

  59. Anonymous

    Confucious say: this erection year.

    • Elizabeth

      Calvert’s boss, Act leader Don Brash, was unaware of the building’s image until now. “It’s a surprise to me. I guess better her eyes than most other parts of her I suppose.”

      Tweet:
      (28 May, 7:23pm) @TVNZNews Act MP Hilary Calvert’s eyes are on a massage parlour facade http://bit.ly/lsL4yk #TVNZNews

      Video

      • Elizabeth

        I was hoping La Maison would be topped by more of those fluttering sequin signs I suggested for the Dainty Dairy on Stuart St.

      • Elizabeth

        Spys say Act New Zealand MP Hilary Calvert’s eyes have been taken off the #Dunedin massage parlour building she owns at Queens Gardens.

        Update via Twitter – “Really dark, but still slightly visible”

        Question: Why the sudden obfuscation, Hils?????

  60. Phil

    If memory serves me correctly (back in my signage control days), the tenants of that building were a company under the “corporate umbrella” of the Mongrel Mob. Do we dare add organised crime into the mix ?

    • Elizabeth

      At least one of the property investor chaps in town prides himself on his gang connections; and has been actively involved in setting up brothels in houses for immigrant women. Connections.

  61. Anonymous

    Have the Asian girls moved out of the Mornington villa yet?

  62. Anonymous

    I think they have moved out of the Arthur St house.

  63. Hype O'Thermia

    The classified advts section in the ODT has an amazingly large number of lovely Asian girls with big bust sizes listed as sex workers with cell phone numbers, far disproportionate to the number of Asians in NZ, particularly in Dunedin. You’d have thought someone would have asked a question or two about that in official circles before now. Perhaps they’re all too high-minded to skim through the classifieds, especially THAT section!

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